North Korea’s sudden advancement in developing nuclear weapons may be due to secret support from Iran, British officials fear. The Foreign Office is investigating whether “current and former nuclear states” helped Kim Jong-Un in his drive to mount nuclear warheads on missiles. Iran is top of the list of countries suspected of giving some form of assistance, while Russia is also in the spotlight.
Donald Trump’s recently ousted former chief strategist made a bold declaration this week: Don’t count on the president to certify the Iran nuclear deal come the next October deadline. In his first televised interview since exiting the administration, Stephen Bannon said in a 60 Minutes segment aired Sunday that while the national security establishment is urging Trump to verify Tehran is abiding by the landmark 2015 pact, his old boss is inclined to do otherwise.
Iran says it warned off a U.S. Navy warship during a rescue of a boat in the Gulf of Oman, while American officials say there was no direct contact. The U.S. Navy said Sunday the incident happened Wednesday and involved a small vessel some 75 nautical miles from the USS Tempest, a coastal patrol boat. The Navy says another boat much closer offered assistance, with that vessel communicating with Iranian naval forces.
NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS
The Czech Parliament’s lower house has rejected a government proposal to annul a 2000 law that bans Czech companies from supplying equipment for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant. The proposal rejected Friday took into account a 2015 deal that saw international sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for the country curbing its nuclear activities.
Erdogan Says U.S. Targeting Turkey with Iran-Linked Prosecutions | Bloomberg
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized U.S. prosecutors for bringing charges against a former Turkish minister accused of laundering money on behalf of Iran, calling it a politically motivated act against Turkey. Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said he had made it clear to the previous U.S. administration that Turkey wouldn’t take part in any sanctions against neighboring Iran, and that former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan was simply executing the policies of his government.
Turkey's economy minister on September 7 dismissed a case brought by U.S. prosecutors against his predecessor for allegedly taking bribes and helping Iran violate U.S. sanctions law.
The once notoriously enigmatic country of Iran is experiencing a steady but significant boom in Western tourism despite being hit with hefty monetary sanctions, detaining several Americans and having its nuclear ambitions and support for criminalized militias constantly thrown into question by the international media. Data provided to Fox News by leading travel intelligence analyst ForwardKeys showed that there has been a five percent growth in Westerners visiting Iran between September 1, 2016 and September 1, 2017 - and Americans make up 14.5 percent of all Western arrivals.
"Iran is helping the most severe security threats directed against Israel from armed groups," [Chief of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate (MID), Major General Herzi] Halevi noted. "These are serious, but not existential threats. Iran strives to base itself on our borders in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, flooding our borders with its deadly ideology.”
President Donald Trump stressed to the emir of Qatar the importance of unity in fighting terrorism, the White House said on Friday… They also discussed the continued threat Iran poses to regional stability, it said.
A prominent Iranian journalist has lost an eye and part of his face due to a sinus cancer that activists say was left untreated while he was kept in jail. Alireza Rajaee, a former political editor of a number of banned Iranian reformist newspapers, spent four years in prison after being convicted of “acting against the national security” and “propaganda against the state” – vague charges used against dozens of journalists in recent years.
Iranian authorities’ move to stop Iranian women from entering the Tehran stadium where the Sept. 5 soccer match between Iran and Syria was held has stirred controversy as Syrian women were let in to enjoy the game. On Sept. 2, when ticket sales began on a website for the Iran-Syria 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, a new choice was available — women as well as men were allowed to buy tickets. This caused a stir as women in Iran aren’t allowed to enter soccer stadiums to watch games; some officials say that cursing and a number of other possible “immoral” actions by male fans may offend women.
Qom became the bedrock of Iran’s theocracy and remains one of the country’s holiest places — home to 200,000 religious scholars, a destination for Shiite Muslim pilgrims and a center of Islamic thought in a country whose political system is controlled by the clerical establishment. But the city of about 1 million is no longer single-mindedly religious, and its clerics are not immune to the anxieties bubbling beneath the surface of modern Iran.
OPINION & ANALYSIS
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Americans collectively searched for answers about who was behind the terror attack and why it occurred. While Osama bin Laden will forever be known as the mastermind of the tragedy, Iran’s role in the devastating attacks, and its collusion with al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations more generally, must not be overlooked. An early 1990s meeting in Sudan between an emissary of Iran and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, culminated in a decision to put aside Sunni-Shia divisions in favor of an Iran-al-Qaeda pact to conspire against the U.S. As a report by the 9/11 Commission would state, “discussions in Sudan between al-Qaida and Iranian operatives led to an informal agreement to cooperate in … actions carried out primarily against Israel and the United States.”
Since Donald Trump assumed the presidency, European allies have worried he will fulfill his campaign promise and pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal. Trump's national security cabinet has a different idea. U.S. officials tell me that a new strategy on the agreement is ready for the president's approval. Instead of blowing it apart, the plan is to make it stronger. The idea can be summed up as “waive, decertify and fix.”
Within the broad spectrum of Iranian power, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is more powerful than the executive branch. It arguably wields more influence over Iranian policy than any other body with the exception of the Supreme Leader. Therefore, what IRGC commanders and recruits think and believe matters. Within the IRGC, the Qods [Jerusalem] Force is the most elite unit. It is against this backdrop that the excerpted remarks of Deputy Commander of the Qods Force Brigadier General Esmail Qaani merit attention.
In a recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley sought to dismantle the political and intellectual firewall that has, for over a decade, thwarted the development of a comprehensive U.S. policy toward Iran. Haley rejected the prevailing notion that Iran’s nuclear activities comprise a special sort of threat that can be addressed in isolation from Tehran’s overall malign behavior. Regrettably, reactions to Haley address failed to reckon with this point because they narrowly focus on her assessment of whether Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. Yet this reaction perfectly demonstrates the importance of Haley’s main argument about the need to broaden our view of the threat from Iran.
The future of the Iran deal is again under question… [G]iven the extraordinary threat that Iran poses with its expansionism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, as well as the ongoing administration review of Iran policy, the status of the JCPOA cannot be sacrosanct.
With the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the unfreezing of many Iranian assets and the lifting of some sanctions, Iran has been able to augment its military budget. One of its top priorities appears to be boosting its missile capabilities. According to the excerpted article from Kayhan, a newspaper whose editor is appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and which remains close to the Office of the Supreme Leader, Iran is moving ahead with its Sayyad surface-to-air missile line.
Acts of brutality against the Kurdish population in Iran is a regular occurrence. For instance, just a few days ago (September 4, 2017), soldiers of Iran’s dreaded Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp of Iran (IRGC) shot dead two porters in cold blood in the western city of Baneh. In protest against the killings, demonstrations broke out in the Kurdish city and a large number of residents gathered outside the governor’s office on Tuesday (September 5) demanding an end to the ongoing attacks against workers. According to reports by opposition groups, a number of shops and markets were closed in support of the protests, even as the regime’s security forces clashed with protesters.